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570 cops sent to Samar to guard May polls, fight armed groups

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About 574 policemen assigned at the regional headquarters of the Philippine National Police in Palo, Leyte were deployed on Monday (Feb.4) for polls duties and at the same time, help address the insurgency and the presence of private armed groups on Samar Island. (JOEY A. GABIETA)

TACLOBAN CITY — More than 570 policemen were deployed last Monday to the Samar provinces to help secure the May mid-term elections and neutralize private armed groups and the New People’s Army (NPA).

Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, police director for Eastern Visayas, led the send-off ceremonies for the policemen at Camp Ruperto Kangleon, headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Eastern Visayas (PRO-8) in Palo town, Leyte

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The 574 policemen are under the Regional Special Operation Task Force although 60 of them are with the elite Special Action Force.

Carlos made it clear that while the policemen would have poll duties, their other assignment was to neutralize private armed groups and members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

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Their jurisdiction covers the provinces of Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar, where there are reported private armed groups and the presence of the NPA.

Earlier, President Duterte issued Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70, calling for the neutralization of private armed groups and rebel group by 2019.

“They are not just assigned for the election but also in compliance to MO 32 and EO 70 issued by the President,” Carlos said.

Their assignment on Samar Island would continue even after the election period on June 12 until their other tasks have been accomplished, the police regional director said.

Carlos said he also directed the three Samar police provincial headquarters to create one mobile force company to help the missions of the 674 policemen.

For their election duties, Carlos urged his men to ensure that the conduct of the elections in three Samar provinces would be peaceful, orderly and credible.

He also asked them to remain neutral and not to allow themselves to be used by any candidate.

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“We will remain apolitical and nonpartisan. If there is information that some of them are engaging in politically related activities, we will take action after validating the information,” Carlos said.

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